Don’t think of a pink elephant flying a plane!
Damnit. I told you not to think of a pink elephant. Why did you clearly violate my instructions? Might it be because your mind has to construct the pink elephant then NOT think about it?
Learning this mental quirk was how I was able to raise perfect kids.
Imagine being a two-year-old. I know it’s been a while. But take this trip with me. You are literally just learning to speak without tripping on your feet. You might have a dozen words like water, love, daddy, and booboo in your vocabulary. But you don’t understand nuance. You still don’t understand context and intent.
Now imagine your parents saying, “Don’t write on the walls!”
Next thing you know, the wall looks like the bathroom wall at the seedy neighborhood bar. Your little mind heard “write on the walls.” The word “don’t” is iffy to a little kid’s mind.
Hell, you just thought of a pink elephant despite my instructions above.
As dads, we tend to tell our kids what we want them to do by telling them what we DON’T want them to do. Then we wonder why we have crappy disobedient kids. When in fact, we’re crappy communicators.
Tell them what you want them to do specifically. (Then model this behavior.)
My girls never wrote on walls. Not because they were perfect, but I never gave them the idea in the first place. I’ve taken this approach in every possible scenario as they were growing up. They’re both young adults now. As you can imagine, my concerns are much more significant than walls.
We need our kids to understand us clearly and with little room for misinterpretation.
Stop telling your kids not to think of pink elephants.